Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume by Silvena Rowe is a cookbook I picked up purely because of it’s cover. It is a compilation of recipes from Eastern Mediterranean cuisine, born out of rediscovering her Ottoman roots, her father was Turkish, and her rediscovery travels through Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. It also speaks to my love for Turkey. The forward is by Heston Blumenthal and I am glad I judged this book by it cover.
It’s between the exotic purple cover that I found the Mahluba Rice with Aubergines, topped with Feta and Pomegranate Seeds recipe.
Mahluba is a rice dish similar to a pilaf finished in the oven. In this recipe Silvena mentions that it is a dish served for staff meals at the Damascus Four Seasons Hotel, and that guests who stay there are missing out as it isn’t on the guest menu. Damascus also happens to be her favorite city in the world. I think it’s fitting that this is the first recipe I tried from the book and I am quite pleased.
A take on the Mahluba Rice with Aubergines, topped with Feta and Pomegranate Seeds recipe sans pomegranate in the Jozi Kitchen
This week we have a lot of unused eggplant (Aubergine) and marrows from the lasagna making over the weekend, so on the drive home last night the idea of an eggplant pilaf came to mind. I love the combination of rice, spices and vegetables all in one pot. Oh yes, one pot cooking is my thing!
I don’t have much time for slow cooking most week nights since I joined the ranks of Entrepreneur but last night was a special occasion. You know a night where eating late doesn’t matter because I’d be working late anyway. And luckily my pantry had almost everything required for the recipe save for the pomegranate seeds.
The version from the cookbook is a simple combination of eggplant, onions and short grain rice fragranced with paprika and steamed in chicken stock. I, wanting to use my whole pantry, also added baby marrows, whole shallots roasted with the chicken pieces, chili flake and paprika spiced chicken pieces. I started by grilling the chicken in the oven dish before following Silvena’s recipe and layering it with the fried vegetables then the toasted spiced rice and topping with chicken stock. I fragranced the rice which is lightly toasted in a pan with smoked paprika, cumin, ground cinnamon, whole cloves, sultanas and a few saffron threads topped with chicken stock and baked in the oven for an hour.
Essentially, it’s the fragrant sweeter version of a Biryani which is a lot ore common in my household.